Are you dreading having a tooth repaired with a dental filling? If so, you’re not alone.
Many people suffer from dental anxiety, which is a fear of having their teeth worked on. In fact, this anxiety is what makes many people avoid going to the dentist altogether.
However, it’s imperative you see a dentist if you suspect you have a cavity or other dental issue. Avoiding the problem will only make it worse.
If you have an upcoming filling scheduled and are struggling with anxiety, keep reading. We’re going over what you can expect from the process. Here’s a little hint – it’s a piece of cake.
The Initial Examination
The first step is to determine if you need a filling in the first place. This means your dentist will need to check for either a cavity or minor fracture. If left untreated, these issues can lead to infection, further decay, and pain.
Your dentist can do a quick examination to check for an issue. They may use a dye that exposes areas of decay or a metal instrument to test the strength of your teeth. Don’t worry, the process is quick and easy.
They may also take an x-ray to determine the extent of the damage. An x-ray will show where the decay is developing or if a fracture is present.
Once your dentist performs a thorough examination, they’ll know what approach to take to fully restore your tooth. You’ll then need to schedule a separate appointment
The Dental Filling Procedure
There’s not too much you’ll need to do to prepare for your appointment. Because the procedure is non-invasive, you don’t need to fast. Also, go ahead and brush your teeth as you normally would.
If you know you’ll have anxiety, try to schedule your filling for the morning hours. This way you won’t have to worry about it throughout the day.
The time it takes to complete the procedure will depend on the severity of your condition and the number of teeth your dentist must fill. However, it typically takes less than an hour to complete a single filling. There’s no reason to take off work or school.
To ensure you don’t feel any pain, your dentist will numb the tooth and surrounding area. They’ll either use a topical gel or local anesthetic administered by injection. This injection feels like a minor pinprick.
Some dentists use nitrous oxide gas, also referred to as “laughing gas” to make you more comfortable. This gas also relieves any pain associated with the procedure.
If you suffer from severe anxiety and don’t feel you can make it through the process, some dentists offer sedation dentistry. This involves the use of medication to sedate you during the filling. Your dentist can advise you on whether you’ll need this.
Keep in mind a simple filling only causes minor irritation. The numbing gel or local anesthetic is more than enough to make the process comfortable.
Preparing the Damaged Tooth
After the anesthetic has had time to kick in, your dentist will remove the decaying or damaged area. The filling gets placed over this area.
They’ll use a handheld instrument to remove the decay and water to loosen any debris. A dental assistant will use a small suction devise to get rid of this material. Your dentist may also use a laser to remove the damaged or decaying portions.
Finally, they’ll apply a gel which helps clean the tooth and remove any remaining debris or bacteria. Â
Applying the Filling
After all the decay gets removed, your tooth is ready for the filling. Depending on the condition of the tooth, your dentist may use a composite material or something else such as amalgam or resin.
First, they’ll place an adhesive material over the tooth. This material helps the composite bond to the tooth.
Then, the composite gets applied to the area where the decay or damage used to be. A dental assistant will apply a light to the tooth for a few seconds to harden the material.
Your dentist will repeat this process in order to build up the composite material and seal the tooth. This prevents further damage and ensures bacteria can’t form.
The Finishing Touches
After your dentist applies the composite material, they’ll smooth any edges and quickly polish the tooth. This helps your filling look and feel natural.
Then they’ll have you bite down on carbon paper. This helps determine if the filling is too high.
If it is, they’ll file it down so it lines up with your natural bite. This ensures the filling is in line with the rest of your teeth and you won’t have issues while eating. It can also protect the filling from damage.
Caring for Your Filling
After you’ve had a cavity filled, it’s important you take care of it. Fillings are strong but are still susceptible to damage.
You may feel slight discomfort after the procedure. This will pass in a few hours.
Make sure you engage in healthy oral hygiene on a regular basis. This means brushing, flossing, and using mouthwash. You don’t need to change the way you brush now that you have a filling.
Look into toothpaste specifically designed for sensitive teeth. This will help protect enamel and prevent decay from forming.
You should also use mouthwash with fluoride on a daily basis to kill bacteria.
Problems You May Encounter
It’s important to keep your eye out for problems after you’ve received a filling. There are a number of issues that can arise.
If you notice your filling pulling away from the tooth, see your dentist right away. If this happens, bacteria can enter the space between your tooth and the filling and cause an infection.
In addition, fillings can sometimes break. This can happen while eating or as a result of an impact. If you notice a chipped or broken filling, see your dentist to have it repaired.
Have a Filling Performed at the First Sign of a Problem
If you suspect you have a cavity, brushing more won’t solve the problem. Only a dental filling can protect your tooth from further damage.
The next thing you need to do is relax. Having a cavity filled is a quick and painless process and will help you maintain great oral health.
We provide a wide range of family dentistry services including cleanings, restorative procedures, and cosmetic dentistry. Learn more today.